God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 15 - Deuteronomy 11-13: Moses Reminds Israel of Bad Influences in Canaan

Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 11-13

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

God reminds the people again and again of the harmful influence brought by the people in Canaan.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Moses reminds the people how God was active in their lives. Canaan would be fruitful beyond their imagination.
Israel was to destroy everything about the inhabitants of Canaan's culture to prevent any form of synchronism. God would punish Canaan for all of their evil deeds. God required Israel to live a very different life.
God allowed the people to offer sacrifices without a priest if they lived too far for the journey.
If anyone mentioned worshiping another god, the people were to execute them. It did not matter who the person was. Any Israelite who worshiped another god was executed.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Moses reminded Israel that God, their god, was not some legend found only in myths.

This may be the hardest part of believing and obeying God today. When we read of the plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, the manna every morning, and all of the other acts of God we need faith to help us believe these things happened. We cannot prove them. But Israel did not have that problem. Israel saw them happen firsthand. That is why they should have no excuse in doubting God's ability to fulfill His Promise. People who see God at work have no excuse to doubt God.
What about today? We see God working today. God may not open seas for us to cross, but He works within us. He works through. And sometimes, He works despite us. We, as God's Chosen People, must continuously see and tell others how God is working in our lives. When we slack in doing this we should not be surprised when we and others doubt God's abilities.

The land God gave the people would not be difficult to work.

Canaan was a great place to live. It was fruitful beyond measure and would be so without irrigation. Israel had a great place to live because God loved them. God richly blesses His Chosen People. This will lead to a temptation mentioned in chapter 13.

God is trying to help the people stay faithful to Him.

You may wonder why God keeps repeating this part about Canaan over and over (see March 9 for the list of times God mentioned this in Exodus-Numbers). This is the third day in a row Moses has mentioned how the people in Canaan worshiped other gods. God does not want them to forget why they are getting the land. We must continue to remind ourselves why God is blessing us and what happens when we worship other gods.

God realizes other gods may take credit for His blessings.

I had a professor at Fuller mention this in a class. Israel would enter a land where the natives had a god of the earth, Ba'al. They would pray to Ba'al and he would give them a great harvest. Because Canaan was blessed by God to be a bountiful land their sacrifices worked—or so they believed. When Israel entered Canaan they would see and hear of this and may think that Ba'al is the god of the land. "It worked for the Canaanites, let's see if it works for us." God is explicitly warning them not to let other gods take credit for their blessings because their god is the god over everything. Our god is the God of everything. We do not need any other god to help us in any aspect of life.
Another professor gave an example that shows how this problem can be adverted. In the village where he worked the people would walk around their fields praying to their earth gods for a bountiful harvest. A certain man became a disciple of Jesus. He continued walking around his field. Worried that the man continued worshiping his old gods, the missionary asked the man why he continued this practice. "I still walk around my field praying for a good harvest, but now I pray to God for that good harvest and not the gods of the past," he replied. God should replace all other gods of our past.

God does not allow for family members to be exempt from punishments against worshiping other gods.

Unfortunately, we do not want this section to be here. We are fine with strangers being punished for worshiping other gods. We may join in the punishment. But our own child, our own parent, our own sibling, our best friend, our own spouse? We want God to let us talk them down, win them back. But God is adamant to Israel,
Don't feel sorry for him and don't make excuses for him. Kill him. That's right, kill him. You throw the first stone. Take action at once and swiftly with everybody in the community getting in on it at the end. Stone him with stones so that he dies. (13:8-10, The Message)
The reason is clear, "He tried to turn you traitor against God, your God, the one who got you out of Egypt and the world of slavery" (13:10). God requires this because of the example it will set:
Every man, woman, and child in Israel will hear what's been done and be in awe. No one will dare to do an evil thing like this again. (13:11)
It may sound harsh, but God is not to be tested. All people, even your closest friend or your nearest family member, are held to the same standard—there is no other god but our God and anyone who worships another god is not worthy of God.

How have you seen God working? Leave a comment in the section below or on the Sonoma Mountain Parkway Church of Christ Facebook page.
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